In some of Leonid Maksimovich Leonov’s most celebrated works, written early in his career, problems of good and evil are set against a background of political upheaval during crucial periods in Soviet history. Thus, his fiction serves to document and explore the dislocation of values and traditions and the blurring of moral distinctions that followed from the social reorganization begun by the Russian Revolution. Leonov’s work deals largely with the political implications of criminal acts.
In spite of ideological objections that occasionally have been expressed by those in official positions, in his own country Leonov’s work generally was accepted as politically sound by those who determined Soviet literary standards. While adhering basically to the criteria established by Soviet authorities, he produced works that also represent original, deeply personal approaches to literature. The success of Leonov’s works disproves some critics’ contention that political requirements precluded the acceptance of crime fiction among Soviet readers.